Cities may also work on Public Works complex

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Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2013 12:00 am

Papillion officials are wondering if tax dollars can be saved by sharing some resources with La Vista as the Papillion Public Works Department builds a new building across Portal Road from La Vista’s facility.

The city purchased land near 96th Street and Portal Road last year with plans to build an $8 million home for the Public Works Department. In the past six weeks, city officials have worked on design plans and asked whether a joint complex with La Vista might provide increased efficiency.

Papillion Mayor David Black said the city will take four to six weeks for a “timeout” on the project to consider how La Vista might be a partner. The cities will jointly hire a consultant to study the proposal.

“I don’t think we have any preconceived ideas,” Black said. “If there’s money to be saved by sharing of space and becoming more efficient, it’s the right thing to do for the public to take advantage of that.”

La Vista Mayor Doug Kindig said he appreciates the spirit of cooperation that exists between the two cities. Both municipalities are also exploring the idea of outsourcing fire and rescue services for La Vista residents to the Papillion Fire Department.

“We feel fortunate to have neighbors who are willing to explore these options with us,” Kindig said.

Black said a merger isn’t on the table because Papillion taxpayers already get the best service for the lowest municipal tax levy in the metropolitan area.

“We run very efficient operations,” Black said. “I don’t want to mess with the lowest levy and the highest quality of service. Why would I want to change that?”

However, cost-savings from sharing facilities could benefit both Papillion and La Vista. For example, a fueling station costs a half-million dollars, so it would make no sense to build two when just one could serve the needs of both public works departments.

Still, the proposal won’t have a lot of savings up front, Black said. Over the long term, promoting collaboration may well create significant savings.

However, if the study finds the shared space isn’t worth the cost or effort, Black said the City of Papillion is prepared to move forward on its own.

If the proposal is sound, though, both cities would look at how to share space. Black said a model already exists: La Vista’s partnership with Metropolitan Community College.

The college’s Sarpy Center is located in the same facility as the La Vista Public Library, and both public entities have joint control of the building.

Papillion City Administrator Dan Hoins said the study already has approval, and other entities also have examples of cooperative facilities, such as the Omaha-Douglas County Civic Center.

Such cooperation is common, Black said, and an example of what local governments do when they’re left alone.

Part of what makes Papillion a great place, Black said, is the strong relationships it has with other local governments.

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